Facility Profile - February 2008
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Grades and Good Health

MiraCosta College in Oceanside, Calif.

By Elisa Drake

ttending school just a few minutes from some of the best sun, sand and surf in Southern California could make it all too temping for MiraCosta College students to lounge at the beach. After all, the 121-acre school is located on a hilltop, and the name translates from Spanish as "behold the coast." But varied and valuable classes keep them engaged, including the Wellness Center program, which offers two popular classes that fulfill a physical education graduation requirement and also start students on a positive track for lifelong fitness and good health.

"We service not only students that are athletic, but students that may be discovering physical education," explained Sue Simpson, department chair of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition at the Oceanside, California-based community college.

While the program is something the school refers to as "open entry-open exit"—which allows students to work out a schedule that's convenient for them—students must log a minimum amount of time: 30 minutes for each workout, totaling an average of two hours and two visits a week for one credit, and three hours and three visits per week for one-and-a-half credits.

The college also invites people beyond the campus to pay for the course as no credit (minus a structured seminar aspect), and many do. The diverse group totals about 900 students and includes people with physical and developmental impairments, as well as a broad age range. In fact, less than 50 percent of those enrolled are of a typical college age of 18 to 23 years old. "I think our community college facility is unique because we service from high school to octogenarian," said Joan Hackett, Wellness Director.

Enrollment allows all students access to the 2,100-square-foot exercise facility and includes an initial fitness and medical assessment. "We encourage all the students to take a fitness assessment early in the semester as a starting point and motivational tool," Hackett explained. "At the end of the semester, they can have another test…Those that do show remarkable progress."

"Some of our octogenarians enroll as an audit just because they feel supported and comfortable at the community college," Hackett added. On the other end of the spectrum, there are high school students who receive physical education credit for the class, and after graduating high school some of them choose to attend MiraCosta "because of their first introduction to it at the Wellness Center," Simpson noted.

Some of the MiraCosta students who take the course have actually already taken it for credit but enroll again for no credit, simply to continue their exercise routine and take advantage of everything the facility offers.

What's so appealing about the MiraCosta Wellness Center? "A lot of students who work out at other commercial facilities say they like it here better because it's a more intimate environment," Hackett said. "They feel comfortable and safe, and that helps with their attendance."